By ultrapeanut 0 Comments
A few years ago, some wonderful people in Austria made a game that was seemingly tailored to my tastes and preferences. I didn't find out about their efforts until today. Stoked: Big Air Edition has already paid me back for the incredibly paltry sum of $6 (with shipping) it cost me, and I can safely say that having played a mere five hours and seen a fraction of 2 of the game's 7 mountains. Too little exposure and too much skepticism would have robbed me of the chance to like this game as much as I already do if I hadn't fallen into a quest/wiki rabbit hole last week which led me to the Stoked page and a few positive posts entombed within the forum's three dusty old threads. I'm so glad I got nostalgic for the infuriatingly terrible T&C Wood and Water Rage.
I allowed myself to dream an impossible dream and bought a used copy for the aforementioned less-than-lunch price, but as I waited two whole business days until it got here my confidence wavered. Were these people for real? Could it seriously be "a slightly less polished Skate for snowboarding," as one person described it? That's only the most enticing thing ever, no big deal. But c'mon, would I ever really play a simulation-focused snowboarding game with challenging yet rewarding mechanics, free roaming, a huge and extremely diverse soundtrack, and reasonably extensive character customization?
YES. A million times, yes. This is the game that seemed too good to be true considering the total lack of attention or praise I saw for it.
Skate and SSX are two of my absolute most beloved gaming series, and Stoked takes the things I love about both and mushes their faces together quite skillfully. By which I mean to say, Stoked is the sim I always wished SSX 3 could be as I rode down BIG Mountain listening to Röyksopp over and over again. The controls and are how I would have converted skate. into snow. if I were some kind of minor deity with video game related powers. The career mode allows you to progress by either riding down the mountainside doing whatever catches your eye or selecting challenges from the menu, and ultimately it's a very grounded (hurr) experience with a steep learning curve. For a sim-adoring dork like myself, this amounts to an immensely gratifying experience.
The only noteworthy issue I can think of so far* is the occasional wonkiness you can encounter on grinds, but it's not frequent or bad enough to detract from the rest of the (seasonally appropriate) gift-wrapped package. It doesn't hurt that I'm playing the buffed and shined Big Air Edition, but the overall level of polish compares favorably to that of Skate's OG effort, plus the presentation is surprisingly robust and stylish. And even if the preceding sentence weren't true, the inclusion of female boarders (something it took Black Box until Skate 2 to do) would have made up for a lot of hypothetical problems. At this point I'm spoiled by seeing someone who resembles me doing the grinds and grabs my fingers are telling them to do, and I probably wouldn't have even taken the gamble on Stoked without it. Thanks for the foresight, Bongfish!
*Oh, and online is totally dead. Which is probably to be expected from an extremely low profile three year old game with niche appeal, so I'm not counting that. But hey, leaderboards! That would be cool and reminiscent of the new SSX if literally any of my friends (XBL or otherwise) had ever played Stoked.